Thursday, October 25, 2018

The UST Parahatchet FS

A while back I sampled and reviewed some common emergency rations. One of the first brands I found was the Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST) 2400 kCal bar. It was in the middle of the pack of all of the brands I tested, but it has one advantage: I can buy it at Wal-Mart. I like having the option of buying survival gear locally, with cash, to confuse the data-miners that are constantly scanning my digital traces to build a “better” profile on me. I'm a private person and don't like it when groups try to gather information on me.

While picking up a few more of the UST food bars to spot-check their quality control, I looked around the camping gear to see what else was interesting and found the UST Parahatchet FS.

The “Para” part of the name comes from the paracord wrapping of the handle, which is handy for providing a more comfortable grip to a piece of flat steel and gives you about 8 feet of cheap paracord if you need it. The “FS” is for the included fire-starter, which is a combination of magnesium rod and sparking rod. Here's a list of the features and my thoughts on each.

The Hatchet
Small, but sharp right out of the package. It's not terribly heavy, which is good for carrying but means it won't have the mass for a good bite into wood when swung. The cutting edge is about 4 inches wide and slightly curved to help it cut through wood. This is going to be limited to branches and sticks less than 2 inches thick due to its size. Touching it up with a sharpening stone, I can tell they used a fairly good grade of steel and it is hardened.

On the back of the hatchet is a sharpened notch for cutting rope and cordage. It seems to work on light cordage in a few quick tests. I like the fact that it is ground on both sides instead of just one; that makes it harder to sharpen, but also makes it cut better.

Three Wrench Holes
I'm not sure how often people need a wrench in a survival situation, but they do seem to pop up on a lot of gear. These are standard (not metric) wrenches in 3/8, 9/16, and 11/16 sizes. From personal experience, 7/16, ½, and 9/16 would have been a better choice since they're more common.

The Holster
It comes with a nylon holster that has metal rivets reinforcing the side where the cutting edge rests. You have to insert the top of the blade into the holster and roll the bottom into it in order to get the hatchet in the holster, which is good for retention, but takes a bit of practice to master. The Velcro closure seems to be large enough for the weight of the hatchet. There's a pouch on the front of the closure for the fire-starter (see below), but it's very snug, and inserting the fire-starter is best done with the closure open. The belt loop on the back of the holster is about 1.75 inches wide, so it will fit on most belts.

The Fire-Starter
A cute blending of a magnesium rod with a groove that holds the sparking rod. The magnesium alloy is softer than most, and the sparking rod works well. I tested them on the back of the hatchet blade and they both seemed to function as designed.

For something that you can pick up at Wal-Mart for about $12, this is a fair buy. Comparing it to any of the similar hatchets on the market (which all cost 2-5 times as much) might be a winter project for me, but I'm going to give this one a while to prove itself.

Among the various tools and toys I keep in my truck, I usually have a normal hatchet and bow saw for dealing with tree branches, but I've been looking for something to add to my GHB that would be a bit lighter and smaller. The Parahatchet looks like it might fill that spot; more testing will have to wait until I have some free time. Expect a field report in a few months!

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